My husband and I divorced each other before we ever married. Following a four-year affair, we separated with a bang, heading in opposite directions before we ended like the War of the Roses. One year later, we were still so angry at one another that we had to choose a neutral territory to meet between Milan and
Rome to conclude our financial

The kiss of death
What causes such outrage between two people who love each other? The notion that love is like two circles that come together and become one. Conventional beliefs like this are misleading and dangerous because they imply that one of the two people in the relationship eventually will be nullified.
Honey, I argued, it’s simple math and logic: if two become one, then one of the two in the couple is no longer necessary. A healthy relationship is two circles that come together and overlap!
My partner disagreed, My parents marriage embodies this truth and they’ve loved each other their entire lives.
Your parents are nearly a century old! Besides, they’re Italian I’m not! I volleyed back.
You don’t love me enough, he hissed.
Sure. Try harder. A proven formula for reaching emotional bankruptcy faster.
Before you know, the kiss of death subconsciously manipulates you out of integrity with your deepest self. At first, the self in an act of self-preservation will fight. When it’s too late to remedy the chronic threat, the self takes flight. The result is failure and separation. The only thing worse than defeat and breakup combined is watching the self’s plight as it resigns itself to living an unfulfilled life of regret by staying in the unhealthy relationship.
Soul mates are made, not found
At last, our two kindred souls reunited and we married. Giorgio understood that if we were forced to choose between our non-negotiable values and each other, we’d live our lives without one another. As a result, we both embraced the viewpoint that a healthy relationship is one where two circles come together and overlap, creating three distinct spaces. The central space the one that is shared represents the relationship. The remaining two parts of the intertwined circles belong to the respective individuals. As such, these spaces which include things like life purpose, core values, personal memories, previous relationships, hobbies and interests – are not shared. It’s important to honor the individual aspects of your partner: they are what has made him/her your soul mate.
By practicing this healthy relationship model, we were able to honor our individuality AND the relationship so the respective parts and the whole could evolve and grow while we remained true to our deepest selves. Once we supported each other’s highest values, we realized that when you love someone just the way he/she is, that person becomes who you want him/her to be.
How about you?
Do you sometimes find that you’re harboring anger, frustration and resentment in your love relationship Do you wish you knew your self deeply enough so you could take a firm stance
Going from hiss to bliss
Challenging your partner’s values guarantees their anger and a defensive response. You can avoid overdrawing each other’s personal equity account by solving the problem, not merely addressing its symptoms. Apply this practical and pragmatic three-step process to go from hiss to bliss in your love relationship:

– Strengthen self first (your circle). When everything is important, nothing is important. Result You become overly defensive, losing credibility and kudos. Know what truly matters to you so you can carefully choose your battles and win rather than depleting your energy by being constantly at war.

– Honor the other like your self (your partner’s circle). Genuine love is honoring your partner enough to know what he/she values, and supporting those values the way you honor your own. When you appreciate and accept your partner the way he/she is, he/she becomes the person you want him/her to be. Mutual respect builds trust and cooperation, which fuels an upward spiral of self- and interpersonal growth.

– Default to spoiling your relationship (central overlap). Relax into the opportunities that your relationship offers by regularly overindulging your partner. This naturally creates good will and increases the equity in your partnership. The exception to this rule is when your partner leaves his/her space field and enters yours by challenging your non-negotiable values.

We all want to be loved for who we are, not who others wish we were. When you have found the person with whom you both can be your true selves, you’ve found your life partner.
The bottom line
Don’t buy into the Hallmark myth that love is two circles that come together and become one. When you honor your self and your partner like yourself, and you both nurture your relationship with the priority and care it deserves, the two circles become three. The overlap in the center takes on a life of its own, creating the foundation for lifelong love and commitment.
If you’d like to learn more about how to go from hiss (or kiss!) to bliss in your love relationship, see What’s New below.


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